Inspiration from People and from Nature
Recently, I traveled for a romance writers and readers event in the northwestern Wyoming community of Cody. Named for William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, an 1800s frontiersman, Pony Express rider, performer, and rancher, this delightful town draws people from all over the world. Situated about an hour from Yellowstone National Park's east gate and almost bordering the Shoshone National Forest, Cody and the surrounding area offers events and natural sites to inspire, educate, and entertain people.
This was the first year for the Cody Romance Round-up. Nearly 20 authors from Wyoming and Montana gathered to sell their romance stories, from historical to contemporary, rom-coms, sweet, saucy, and spicy. I knew several of the authors present from my two years of attending Wild Deadwood Reads, which occurs each June in Deadwood, South Dakota. Connecting again with these authors and discovering and networking with ones I did not know was fun and encouraging. I'm grateful to have attended, not only to sell books, but to learn from authors in my genre, many of whom have found great success. One woman is releasing her 100th book this year -- such an amazing feat to celebrate!
The following day, my friend who traveled with me and assisted me at my author table and I visited Yellowstone for a few hours. Although we didn't see as much wildlife as we had hoped, we did encounter a special sight: seven bighorn rams near the roadway! Such an awesome wildlife encounter! I've been blessed to experience some amazing wildlife sightings in my life, but that one was extra-special -- a person is lucky to see one or two bighorns during a drive into a national park like Yellowstone or Glacier, but to see so many, and most of which were mature males with large curls to their horns. An unforgetable experience!
Such sightings inspire me to write scenes like that into my stories. I remember a time while living near West Yellowstone, Montana that I spotted several moose on my drive home from work -- I believe the total was four. I drove to my house with a large smile on my face that evening.
Another time, as I pulled into my driveway during a snowstorm, I discovered 25 bison in my yard, cows (females) with their young. The smaller ones were taking refuge from the snow under my front deck while their mamas stood around the front protecting their babies from the wind. I sat in my car for several minutes, just staring at the sight. Again, a large smile came to my face. Of course, I had to wait until the bison decided to move on before I could get inside the house, but just that experience made the 15 minutes worth the wait. I used that experience to submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul, which published in the edition "I Can't Believe My Dog Did That," a short story about my dog, Sam, and our various encounters with bison, such as the October night those mamas and babies were in our front yard and under the deck -- Sam stood on the couch at the picture window barking his cocker spaniel head off, whether to warn the bison, warn me, or protect me, only he knows why he barked so much that night.
Another moose experience I had involved a mother with her calf at a pond about 20 miles from West Yellowstone. A pair of sandhill cranes was also at the location and they were sparing and squawking at the mama moose. She snorted and stomped her feet -- no one should get in the way of a mother moose, but those sandhill cranes may have been protecting a nest or young of their own. Such a sight to see! I wove that experience into a few scenes of my first novel, Rescue Road.
Nature, including moose, play a role in my newest book, Love Takes Flight. Here's an excerpt:
A young male moose wandered through the bushes and stood at the waterway. The six-foot-tall bull raised his long nose as if sniffing the air, then looked right and then left, like a child seeking to cross a street. The gangly creature then stepped into the river and began to swim.
Grin on his face, Nathan said aloud, “Now I know Ellie would love to see this!”
He whipped out his phone, pressed the camera key, and zoomed in. Nathan snapped pictures as the animal with a small rack of palmate antlers, found his stride and coasted toward the opposite shore.
Nathan watched as the moose climbed up a small hill and shook the water from his body. The bull began to feed on willows. Nathan took a few more photos. He then texted some of the pictures to Ellie with a note.
Headed to Sweeney Refuge for the day. Saw this guy and had to share a few photos. All the more reason to enjoy the outdoors!
Afterward Nathan continued to observe the moose and finish his coffee. A blip from his phone let him know he had received a text. He read Ellie’s response.
Lucky you! Been awhile since I’ve been over to that side. Might be a nice outing sometime this summer.
Nathan chuckled. “Might be indeed,” he murmured.
I am sure those bighorn rams will play a role in an upcoming book -- I look forward to seeing how and where as I continue writing these sweet, contemporary, pet rescue romance stories!
Love Takes Flight is available in e-book format now and will release as a print book this Saturday, August 26, 2023, which happens to be National Dog Day. I plan to host a Facebook Live event that day in celebration. I also plan to post a video of me reading from the book, as I'll do on Facebook, on this website. Stay tuned for all of that!
Pick up a copy of Love Takes Flight from your favorite online store through this link:
When the print version becomes available, it will also be listed on several platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Be looking for that this weekend!
What special nature experience have you had that's made a big impression on you? I'd love to know!